Kevin James: Mixed Martial Artist.
Director Frank Coraci (Zookeeper, The Waterboy) brings us another light-hearted family comedy with Here Comes the Boom. Henry Winkler and Salma Hayek co-star alongside Kevin James, here playing a high school biology teacher who steps into the UFC ring in order to raise money to save his school’s music programme from being cut. The film also stars former UFC Heavyweight Champion Bas Rutten and a host of mixed martial arts fighters put in cameo appearances.
At a failing high school in Massachusetts, uninspired biology teacher Scott Voss (James) gets the opportunity to step up and make a difference. When it is announced that the school’s music programme is set to be axed as a result of budget cuts, Voss attempts to raise the $48,000 needed to save both the department and the job of his colleague, music teacher Marty Streb (Winkler). Whilst trying to earn a little of the money teaching night classes, he encounters Niko (Rutten), a former MMA fighter who inspires him to get into the UFC ring and earn some quick cash. School nurse Bella (Hayek) finds herself supporting this seemingly crazy idea in the form of free medical attention and – you guessed it – the love interest. With the help of a well-oiled montage, Voss’ teaching improves alongside his fighting skills (he used to wrestle in college) and he rallies the school out of its funk.
Here Comes the Boom may have a clichéd storyline, but it’s the characters which make this film so enjoyable. Rutten (who had previously co-starred with James in Paul Blart Mall Cop and Zookeeper) is a charismatic presence, very funny and certainly brings the film out of what could have been a horribly standard ‘family comedy’. His eccentricity bounces off Winkler’s whimsical charm, lifting proceedings out of what could have been a succession of inspirational speeches about ‘the kids’ and constant jokes playing on Voss’ feeble attempts to pick up Bella. Although, with that said, James and Hayek make for a surprisingly well-gelled pair and really sparked a believable connection by two-thirds in.
James does a brilliant job in the lead role – although very similar to a lot of the characters he’s played in the past, it’s a case of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. He does cool, charming and funny very well (if not a little smugly) and it works in this particular type of film. His MMA skills are also quite impressive and the fight scenes are full of laughs. There are some interesting shots too: slow-motion flying punches and POV angles designed to capture the ruthlessness of the sport – perhaps a little brutal for a family comedy and probably explaining why Here Comes the Boom has been rated as a 12.
With the help of old friend Adam Sandler in the producer’s chair and Allan Loeb (The Dilemma) teaming up with James on writing, Coraci pulls another well-tuned comedy out the bag. Think Dodgeball meets School of Rock (with cheesy ending to boot) and you should know what to expect. This reviewer found it all thoroughly enjoyable.
Here Comes the Boom was released on March 18th in both Blu-ray and DVD editions. This review is for the DVD. The disc presents the film in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio (anamorphically enhanced) and with DD5.1 soundtrack. There are no issues to report for sound or image – both come across as well as you should expect from a new release of a new movie. An audio descriptive track is available as are English subtitles for the hard-of-hearing. (A German soundtrack is also present alongside optional German, Hindi and Turkish subtitles.)
Special features come in the form of 17 deleted scenes, a gag reel and ‘Here Comes the Cast’, a short featurette on the stars of the film. Some of the deleted scenes are worth watching as they actually add to the flow of the story, such as the trip to the hospital which is mentioned in the finished film but never shown. We also get an entire story about why Hayek’s character feels so strongly about saving the school’s music programme, although it wouldn’t have added too much to the plot had been left in. The gag reels sees some funny interactions between the cast and mainly shows Winkler’s natural ability to make people laugh. Finally, the featurette, which has some interesting background on some of the real-life MMA fighters in the film plus it tells us how YouTube sensation Charice got the part of star student Malia.
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
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